FTL iPad review

FTL iPad review

First to last? Frogs that leap? Friendly touchy liaisons? Fatties taste lasagne? Fug the law? FTL can stand for anything you like, baby, but here it mostly means Faster Than Light.

It’s no exaggeration to say that FTL is one of the most beloved indie games of the past few years, with many a thumb raised in approval by critics and players alike. Here it is for the iPad, and while it’s clearly brilliant, I’m not sure how much I like it. Thought streams below.

FTL is a “roguelike”, which means it’s procedurally generated and hella difficult, with death resulting in “permadeath”: bite the proverbial bullet and it’s time to start from scratch.

Described as a “spaceship simulation game”, you’re tasked with jumping from sector to sector, with the ultimate goal of delivering data “vital to the remaining Federation fleet” – all while being pursued by evil rebels.

Within each sector, you’ll jump from location to location (maybe around half a dozen per sector), and at each, one of a number of things might happen.

Maybe you’ll find a distress call, a shop, an asteroid field, a hostile pirate ship, evil slavers on the lookout for new meat, or – sometimes – nothing at all.

Of course, being procedurally generated, each FTL playthrough is significantly different. Even a distress call, for example, will yield one of several possibilities, including a ship with no fuel, a colony fighting an infection, an ambush…

FTL iPad review

There’s also a ton of stuff going on aboard your FTL ship (which you’re free to name, incidentally). Among other things, it’s necessary to manage fuel reserves, carry out repairs, distribute power to different areas of the ship as required, install upgrades… The list goes on and on and on, but – to FTL’s credit – it’s all very intuitive.

Where FTL falls down somewhat, for me, is the difficulty. You can be cruising along for 30 minutes with everything going relatively well, only to die in one brief, and utterly horrific, encounter.

The worst part is watching on as your missiles repeatedly miss enemy ships, while your ship takes an absolute pounding. Perhaps, to add insult to injury, you’ll be boarded, and suddenly tasked with a) targeting, b) conducting repairs, c) putting out fires, and d) meeting the intruders. It’s utterly overwhelming, but intentionally so.

It is possible to adjust FTL’s difficulty (easy, normal or hard), but even on the easiest setting, I found myself struggling to make any significant progress. For some, however, that’s all part of the, er, fun.

On the whole, I did really enjoy FTL, it’s just irksome having to start from scratch every time, and dying often feels random. On the plus side, you’re getting the Advanced Edition included (new ships, enemies, events, weapons…), and the soundtrack is great.


  • A unique experience each time
  • Lots going on, but highly intuitive
  • The soundtrack


  • It’s hella difficult
  • Starting from scratch can be irksome
  • Feels random at times

Summary: If you can get past the difficulty and the randomness, FTL is arguably one of the best games available on the iPad. Indeed, the iPad release is widely being hailed as the “definitive version” of FTL. Check it out.

Developer: Subset Games

Price: £6.99 @ App Store

Compatibility: Requires iOS 6.0 or later. Compatible with iPad 2 and above.

FTL iPad review

Read more about: Apple iPad AirApple iPad mini 2iOSApple iPad 2Apple iPad 3Apple iPad 4Apple iPad mini

Add a comment

krogothnx  Apr. 26, 2014 at 11:26

would love to get this for iPad, but i don't see the point in paying so much when i already own the PC original. I would bet quite a large proportion of potential buyers are being put off because of the exact same circumstances.

If they at least gave a special discount or something for the owners of the PC version, maybe things would be different

CTPAHHIK  Apr. 28, 2014 at 08:36

It's a really good game for PC. Hope it's one for one on iPad.

I don't think there is going to be a discount or anything like that. Different platform = have to pay again. I don't think this is so bad, much worse thing could be inability to sync data. All iOS and Android games are coming out to Windows 8 and you can play them on PC, but there is no way to sync data.


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